The Way We Bared Our Souls by Willa Strayhorn | Review

Thursday, August 18, 2016
Title: The Way We Bared Our Souls
Author: Willa Strayhorn
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: January 22nd, 2015
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository
If you could trade your biggest burden for someone else’s, would you do it?
Five teenagers sit around a bonfire in the middle of the New Mexico desert. They don’t know it yet, but they are about to make the biggest sacrifice of their lives. Lo has a family history of MS, and is starting to come down with all the symptoms. Thomas, a former child soldier from Liberia, is plagued by traumatic memories of his war-torn past. Kaya would do anything to feel physical pain, but a rare condition called CIP keeps her numb. Ellen can’t remember who she was before she started doing drugs. Kit lost his girlfriend in a car accident and now he just can’t shake his newfound fear of death. When they trade totems as a symbol of shedding and adopting one another’s sorrows, they think it’s only an exercise. But in the morning, they wake to find their burdens gone…and replaced with someone else’s.

What I thought

I will always show up for magical realism, but this one disappointed me. I was expecting to walk away loving this book, but I walked away feeling meh about it.

The first chapter was intriguing and it piqued my interest quite fast, but I found it dwindling as the book moved along. For one, the coyote guy with his mystical coyote seemed far-fetched and kind of forced. Also, kind of a lot of spiritual mumble jumble that I just couldn't get behind not because of my own religious views but because it all seemed pretty forced. A thing I've learned about magical realism is that the magic can't feel forced and for this book it felt everything but natural.

The aspect I liked the most about the book was that there were some beautiful passages. Writing wise sometimes the words just took my breath away, but in the over all context of the story they didn't feel quite right and they felt like something that had been included in just for lyrical aspect instead of actually bringing something to the story, the plot or the character development.

The relationship between our five protagonists also felt forced at times and I didn't really grow to care for them that much. Sure, their situation was messed up and they all had something to carry (as we all do) but I didn't really feel connected to them.

There's a Native American aspect to this book, as well, and I don't think it's my place to speak of it since I'm not Native American nor am I well informed on the matter, but sometimes I felt kind of cringey about it. That might just be me, I don't know. This book did have Native American characters and it also had the use of Spanish, which were two good points, in my book.

I thought I was going to enjoy this book way more than I actually did and there were some things in here I wasn't comfortable with or that I just didn't like.

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